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New York Times, Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Author:
Michael Dewey
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
61/9/201210/5/20160
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0303000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.73000
Michael Dewey

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 38 Missing: {QZ} Spans: 2 This is puzzle # 3 for Mr. Dewey. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Michael Dewey notes:
My interest in the R.M.S. Titanic surfaced in my youth when I read Walter Lord's 'A Night to Remember.' Years later, I lived in St. ... read more

My interest in the R.M.S. Titanic surfaced in my youth when I read Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember." Years later, I lived in St. John's, Newfoundland for a spell. This placed me in the proximity of Iceberg Alley, the frigid stretch of the North Atlantic which spans from Greenland to Newfoundland. On several occasions icebergs would appear "out around the bay," as the locals say. Experiencing such natural phenomena firsthand fueled my fascination with icebergs and the maritime disaster.

The phrase "TITANIC SINKS" was part of the headline for the Boston Daily Globe, the London Herald, the Baltimore American, the Globe (of Toronto), and, of course, the New York Times after the historic wreck of 1912. In the spring of 2011, anticipating the centennial of the disaster, I constructed this puzzle with that headline as the reveal entry. MAIDEN VOYAGE and TIP OF THE ICEBERG were fairly obvious inclusions, but I really like COLLISION THEORY because in this puzzle it takes on a double meaning. Indeed, there have been many theories about what caused the collision and how it could have been prevented.

By the summer of 2011, the editor and I agreed upon this version as the best of several grids I had constructed. My puzzle was initially penciled in for the anniversary week in April of 2012. Later, when Mr. Shortz received several Titanic-themed Sunday grids from some great constructors, my publication date was justifiably delayed. My initial reaction to this news was akin to, "OH, BOTHER." Two years after that decision, I am thrilled to have the puzzle in print. Repetitive theme aside, the grid is pretty solid. 102 years after the shipwreck, I tip my cap to the survivors and say a prayer for the souls who perished in the icy waters off the coast of Newfoundland.

Jeff Chen notes:
Ah, I feel for Michael. A nice tribute puzzle, one with some subtlety and nuance, but without the punch it would have had at the 100th ... read more

Ah, I feel for Michael. A nice tribute puzzle, one with some subtlety and nuance, but without the punch it would have had at the 100th anniversary. It's unfortunate that a Sunday puzzle and then another one was published around that time, pushing Michael's nice construction back. Such is life. It had to be tough for Will, having already accepted this puzzle but then having a few nice Sunday submissions come in. Considering how much he (and other editors) typically need Sunday-size puzzles, it had to be a hard decision.

On to today's puzzle. As I mentioned before, I like the fact that Michael shot for something more than just a straight-up tribute puzzle. I wasn't totally familiar with COLLISION THEORY but what a nice answer. As a lover of all things chemistry, I really enjoyed reading up on this theory. Amazing to learn more about people who make breakthroughs in their fields of expertise. It's only too bad that Michael/Will had to use a straightforward, definitional clue for it. Totally understandable, because the entry is not well-known, but I really liked how they disguised TIP OF THE ICEBERG, for example.

I really enjoyed having the longer fill, OH BOTHER in particular. ECLIPSE is such a nice answer in itself, and the clever clue [Sun block?] makes it even better. It's amazing how just a small handful of great answers / great clues can really spice up a grid. Well worth the effort of 1.) incorporating a few long answers and 2.) spending time coming up with at least one killer clue.

Michael does a nice job with his layout and black square placement. Beautiful work in the NE and SW, big open corners with just an OMARS as a slight dent. Also, note the difficulty inherent in TITANIC SINKS being 12 letters. An "unfortunate length," this requires placement in row 12, not in row 13 as is often done. Might seem like a trifling issue, but this creates real difficulties in spacing. TIP OF THE ICEBERG and TITANIC SINKS are only a single row apart, and although Michael does well to save almost all the crossings, look at where ILE sits. The EDO/DEA/ATLI/ILE area is a bit unfortunate, all created by the ?T?I pattern which has few options, none of which are very good.

Finally, note how the NW and SE corners feel separated from the grid? That generally is frowned upon, because it's too easy to get stuck in a little area with no recourse. It's my fault as a solver for sticking with ANIMAL instinct for too long, but having only that one answer as an entryway into the section made it that much more difficult to solve. I think using that isolation is fine for this puzzle, since it allows Michael to incorporate ECLIPSE and OH BOTHER, but slightly easier clues in that NW (to offset the segregated nature) would have been much appreciated.

Well constructed, fun puzzle.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 0416 ( 23,535 )

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Across
1
Bound : JUMP
5
Cuddly sci-fi creature : EWOK
9
Actors Sharif and Epps : OMARS
14
___ cry : AFAR
15
Kind of curriculum : CORE
16
Tackles : HASAT
17
Nirvana seeker : YOGI
18
Brain part : LOBE
19
Pickling liquid : BRINE
20
Post-christening event : MAIDENVOYAGE
23
Pitch tents, say : ENCAMP
26
Feedbag morsel : OAT
27
Hair goop : GEL
28
What scientists use to predict the rates of chemical reactions : COLLISIONTHEORY
32
"Winnie-the-Pooh" young 'un : ROO
33
Golf's Ernie : ELS
34
TV : SET
35
Felix of "The Odd Couple" : UNGER
38
"Krazy ___" : KAT
40
Hindu honcho : RAJAH
44
Contra-contraband org. : DEA
46
Bloviation : GAS
48
Author Umberto : ECO
49
Small part that's visible : TIPOFTHEICEBERG
55
Lead-in to meter : ODO
56
___-de-France : ILE
57
Eschews nuptial formalities, say : ELOPES
58
Headline of April 16, 1912 : TITANICSINKS
62
Saw : ADAGE
63
Clump of hair : KNOT
64
Clump of hair : TUFT
68
Soda bottle measure : LITER
69
When repeated, kind of show : LATE
70
Dust Bowl migrant : OKIE
71
Floor : STORY
72
"Goodness gracious!" : EGAD
73
Cry at a deli : NEXT
Down
1
Noisy bird : JAY
2
One side in a close encounter : UFO
3
___ wheels : MAG
4
Kind of instinct : PRIMAL
5
Sun block? : ECLIPSE
6
Lumber : WOOD
7
"Eat ___ eaten" : ORBE
8
Liking a lot : KEENON
9
Winnie-the-Pooh catchphrase : OHBOTHER
10
Crèche figure : MARY
11
Italian cheese : ASIAGO
12
Texas lawman : RANGER
13
Unyielding : STEELY
21
Godard, to Truffaut, e.g. : AMI
22
Vintners' vessels : VATS
23
Relative of beige : ECRU
24
Eleven plus one : NOON
25
Plumbing problem : CLOG
29
Sort : ILK
30
Oklahoma Indian : OSAGE
31
Amtrak listing, for short : ETA
36
Tokyo's former name : EDO
37
Facility often found near a port : REFINERY
39
Mai ___ : TAI
41
Grand Cherokee, e.g. : JEEP
42
Parcel of land : ACRE
43
Arkansas footballers, informally : HOGS
45
Mythical king of the Huns : ATLI
47
Fragrant : SCENTED
49
Wrecks : TOTALS
50
Cry of success : IDIDIT
51
Stew ingredient : POTATO
52
Give a hard time, in a way : HECKLE
53
Yellowstone bugler : ELK
54
Globe's place : BOSTON
59
New ___ : AGER
60
Catch : SNAG
61
Smidgen : IOTA
65
Maui music-maker : UKE
66
Pickle : FIX
67
Vietnamese New Year : TET

Answer summary: 1 unique to this puzzle.

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